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The Online Marketing MBA Program Explained

Marketing TeamMarketing folks wear many hats. Marketing divisions oversee advertising, market research, media planning, public relations, product pricing, distribution, customer support, sales strategy, and community involvement. Over the last 10 years, the industry has witnessed radical changes, including the influx of social media and a new wave of ways to connect with potential and current consumers.

"Companies make the mistake of thinking that marketing is just 'one' thing, but marketing is everything that the consumer encounters when it comes to your business, from advertising, to what they hear, to the customer service that they receive, to the follow-up care that you provide," writes Laura Lake on the Marketing site she maintains for About.com. "It's all marketing and creating the decision within the consumer whether or not to choose you initially or for repeat business."

Successful marketers keep track of those interactions with clients, stay one step ahead of trends, and anticipate their client's needs. Some, particularly those looking to advance in their careers, turn to online programs offering the chance to pursue an MBA with a specialization in marketing.

Table of Contents

  1. What is an online MBA in marketing?
  2. Who is the right fit for the program?
  3. What are the best business schools for marketing MBAs?
  4. Is there a digital marketing guide?
  5. Schools offering online MBA programs

What is an online MBA in marketing?

Those who pursue a marketing MBA -- online or at a brick-and-mortar institution -- often take a core group of business courses that are integrated, so students can make connections between various functions. These courses are typically complimented by electives that are marketing specific. For example, new product design and development and sales and customer relations are among the courses available to students concentrating in marketing at Capella University's online MBA program, says Cheryl Bann, chair of MBA Programs for the school.

Even though the program is online, its curriculum is pretty traditional, she adds. "We focus on how our students can think strategically as marketers," says Bann. "We want them to leave here capable of being true leaders."

Online programs of this nature are typically delivered via education platforms such as Blackboard. You might view lectures on video, chat with classmates in forums, and participate in simulations, group projects, or even live streaming events. Most online programs make the live events optional, so that busy students with full-time jobs or families have the convenience of making their own schedules.

Capella students have mobile access to their coursework. They also take a two-course capstone in which they participate in a simulation designed to bring together the skills they have picked up in the program, and a separate project that gives them the chance to apply what they have learned. For the project, students sometimes work with businesses to solve problems, take on an issue challenging their own employer (although that happens less frequently because of the fear of leaking confidential and protected information), or write a comprehensive case study, says Bann.

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Who is the right fit for this program?

Marketing Strategy

Mid-level executives in marketing who are trying to move up the corporate ladder, finesse their basic skills, or learn some new tricks, such as how to use social media to attract potential consumers, tend to be a good match. "They are changing their orientation from seeking a job to seeking a career," says Bann. They choose the online route because they do not want to put their career on hold and would rather continue to work. They might also have families and moving to a brick-and-mortar program is impossible. They already have had some experience in managing marketing teams, and they are looking to gain skills that could potentially propel them into senior management.

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What is the application process?

Applications to online marketing MBA programs vary from institution to institution. One item that is pretty much universal is the requirement of an undergraduate degree. Applicants typically must provide a transcript and GPA. Some programs want to know about demonstrations of leadership in the marketing field or ask for recommendations from supervisors. For instance, have you worked on a team responsible for determining the price of your company's latest product? Or are you managing focus groups? These are the kinds of things about which schools want to hear. There is usually an application fee. The good news is that many programs don't ask for standardized test scores, such as the GMAT or GRE.

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What are the best business schools for marketing MBAs?

To determine specialty rankings such as those for marketing programs, U.S. News & World Report sent surveys to the deans and directors of the accredited master's programs that were evaluated for the top business school rankings. These academics and administrators were asked to name programs that excelled in various specialty areas, and the rankings for the best marketing programs are based on these nominations.

Top Marketing MBA Programs (U.S. News & World Report, 2014):

  1. Northwestern University (Kellogg), Evanston, IL
  2. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), Philadelphia, PA
  3. Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
  4. Harvard University, Boston, MA
  5. University of Chicago (Booth), Chicago, IL
  6. University of Michigan (Ross), Ann Arbor, MI
  7. Duke University (Fuqua), Durham, NC
  8. Columbia University, New York, NY
  9. New York University (Stern), New York, NY
  10. University of Texas at Austin (McCombs), Austin, TX
  11. University of California, Berkeley (Haas), Berkeley, CA

Data used to calculate business school rankings can vary from year to year. Marketing courses offered in the schools' campus-based, hybrid and online MBA programs are subject to change, as well.

Learn why some top business schools keep showing up on lists such as this one by digging deep into the information available on MBAPrograms. You can also speak with admissions representatives from the schools you are interested in to discover more about MBA programs in marketing.

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Is there a digital marketing guide?

Digital marketing is a fast growing and fast changing field. This is not a comprehensive list but can be a great starting off point.

Alerts: You use these e-mail updates to monitor what's been said about your brand. Based on your queries, these e-mail updates will include the latest relevant Google web, news and video results.
Blog: Your web journal includes comments and hyperlinks to content you find interesting. WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger and Posterous are among the platforms you may use for blogging information related to your brand.
Brand Loyalty: When customers repeatedly purchase your brand despite price and convenience, they're said to be loyal to your brand. Some become so devoted to your products and services that they become brand ambassadors, talking positively about your brand with their friends.
Bulleted Lists: You use these lists -- set off with bullets -- to enable your readers to peruse your online content in a more efficient manner.
Calls to Action: Phrases you use to urge the reader of your online sales promotion message to take immediate action, such as registering on your site, calling you, or clicking on a link.
Content: The information you include in an online document such as an article, a blog post, an eBook or a whitepaper. You could also include information in audio or video files to market your products or services.
Crawl Dates: Google reviews or crawls your site to update the information related to it, including its keywords. To make Google crawl your site frequently, so you may get more leads, you must publish fresh content on your site regularly.
Customer Engagement: The level of involvement, interaction, intimacy and influence your customers have with your brand over time. Customers may visit a site, post a blog comment, express their opinion to a customer service representative, and finally forward content to a friend.
Digital Coupon: Coupons you distribute on your website, social media outlets, texts, and e-mail alerts for discounts on electronic orders or offline purchases of your products or services.
Digital Marketing: Promotional techniques you use to reach customers via digital technologies, including search engine and mobile marketing. You would seek to interact with the customers through the delivery of digital media, such as eBooks, which requires them to register on your site, giving you the creation of new leads.
Digital Marketing Engineer: You are a technical professional that seeks to achieve marketing goals through web presence and digital marketing channels, such as website, e-mail, apps, and mobile platforms.
Digital Strategy: For the digital environment, you identify who the customers are and what you know about them to set online marketing objectives. Doing this allows you to evaluate the landscape and select the most appropriate ways -- be it search, display or social -- to reach your target market.
Direct Marketing: Your advertising targets customers directly -- without intermediaries -- online. For instance, you could engage in e-mail marketing to get a customer to visit a particular website to request more information. You should be able to measure results such as website visits or the use of online coupons.
Display Advertising: You work with online advertising that appears on web pages, such as web banners or graphic images used on websites to advertise products or services.
Domain Name: The user-friendly hostname you enter into a web browser to access a website on the Internet, such as yahoo.com. It's purchased from a registrar for designated periods of time and then renewed.
E-mail Marketing: You promote products or services via electronic mail through this form of direct marketing. Customers could register at your website to receive an eBook and you could get a lead.
Geo-marketing: You use geographical information to market your products or services. For instance, you make sure your location comes up -- with the appropriate marketing data -- when someone looks at a search map of your neighborhood.
Geo-targeting: You customize a product or service ad to target potential buyers in a specific geographic location.
Headings: Likely the largest and most prominent piece of text on your web page, text in these titles is more likely to be read by search engines as keywords than content in the rest of the page. Therefore you should always include keywords in your headings.
HTML: You use HyperText Markup Language to create documents on the World Wide Web. You define the structure and layout of a web document through the use of diverse tags and attributes.
Inbound Links: Links in sites other than your own that lead to your site. They're considered important assets as they should improve your search engine ranking.
Internet Marketing: When you conduct marketing on the Internet, you may use ads, pay per click or e-mails to drive traffic to your website.
Keywords: Words or phrases you enter into a search engine or social media site when researching a particular topic. To drive traffic to your website, you include these words or phrases in your website content.
Landing Page: Any page on your website where visitors arrive after clicking on a link.
Lead Conversion Rate: This key metric is the percentage of your website visitors that take a desired action, such signing up to receive your e-mails or becoming your customers.
Location-Based Services: A software application you use to market your services to potential customers in a particular geographical area. Through it, you may call attention to nearby sales or offer electronic coupons.
Marketing Strategy: Plan that determines which marketing efforts you focus on. For instance, you may want to build a strong relationship with an individual that influences potential customers' decisions.
Meta Description: Paragraph you use to provide search engines a description of your page's content which could be displayed in the listing for your site.
Metrics: Measurements you use to evaluate site performance. You could measure site usage, visitors, traffic sources, and top content and keywords.
Mobile Marketing: When you target potential customers with ads via mobile phones. You may use short message services or SMS, search engines, display ads or two-dimensional barcodes to communicate promotional messages via mobile.
Opt-in: Visitors to your site may opt-in or consent to receive additional information related to your products or services by registering to receive a newsletter or eBook.
Organic Search Results: When a search engine provides information about your webpage on the first page of their unpaid results, you are doing well in their organic or natural search results.
Page Title: Your webpage's name is usually visible on the title bar of the browser while you're viewing the page.
Pay per Click: If you place a PPC or sponsored link, you'll incur in a cost per click, that is, you'll be charged every time someone clicks on your ad.
Podcasting: You record digital audio or video files and make them available on your website for downloading to your computer, media player, or mobile phone. Your may advise potential customers and build brand value through podcasts.
Pull Digital Marketing: Customers will seek you out through their own web searches. You in turn will make your website and blog attractive to 'pull' them in.
Push Digital Marketing: You would 'push' out your message to your target market through e-mail marketing campaigns, SMS text messages, RSS feeds from blogs, Twitter and Facebook.
Search Engine: Computer program you use to search documents on the World Wide Web. You enter a keyword and the search engine identifies documents including the term. Google, Amazon, YouTube and StumbleUpon are search engines.
Search Engine Marketing: You seek to maximize the exposure of your website in search engines through SEM. Search engine optimization and paid listings are two ways you may achieve this goal.
Search Engine Optimization: When you engage in SEO, you include pertinent keywords and keyword phrases so your website ranks high in organic or unpaid search results.
Social Media: Social networking or micro-blogging sites where you develop online communities to share messages, images and videos.
Social Media Marketing: You may use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube to promote your products, services, and personal brand.
Spam: You may consider unsolicited e-mail messages or off-topic newsgroup postings electronic junk. It eats bandwidth and wastes your time.
Streaming Media: Audio or video content you may listen to or view immediately on the Internet -- without having to download the files. You may stream videos about your products or services on YouTube.
Barcodes: Your potential customers may photograph two-dimensional barcodes with smart phones with barcode readers and be directed to a website with additional information about your products and services. Realtors use this technique to provide additional information about their properties.
URL: Your website is identified by a Uniform Resource Locator or address on the World Wide Web. Some of these addresses cost a lot of money, but it's important to have a pertinent one for marketing and search engine optimization purposes.
Web Banner: You may create brand awareness with these rectangular-shaped ads that typically appear at the top of website pages. You could also place a vertical banner known as a skyscraper ad.
Web 2.0: A second generation of the World Wide Web where you collaborate and share information online rather than just take in information from static HTML web pages. YouTube, Wikipedia and Twitter are popular Web 2.0 websites.

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Sources:
Best Business Schools, U.S. News & World Report, 2013, http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schoolsbest-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/mba-rankings
Marketing, U.S. News & World Report, Best Business Schools, 2013, http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schoolsbest-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/marketing-rankings
"Methodology: Best Business Schools Rankings," U.S. News & World Report, Sam Flanigan and Robert Morse, March 11, 2013, http://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/articles/2013/03/11/methodology-best-business-schools-rankings

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